Russian airstrikes over Ukraine have intensified in recent weeks, as have Ukrainian incursions into Russia. A Russian air strike left one dead and about twenty wounded Saturday in central Ukraine. The strike destroyed several buildings, including ten houses, according to Ukrainian authorities. In Kiev, the head of the local military administration said the capital's air defenses had repelled several missiles and drones overnight.
One dead and 22 injured in Dnipro
The strike destroyed two buildings in a residential area of Dnipro, as well as ten houses, a shop and a gas pipeline, according to Dnipro region governor Serhiy Lysak. The body of a two-year-old girl was pulled out of the rubble of the Pidhorodnenska district. Twenty-two people, including five children, were also injured, Ukrainian authorities said Sunday.
President Volodymyr Zelensky accused the Russians of "attacking the city" on Saturday night and stressed that other victims were trapped in the rubble of two apartment buildings. "Once again, Russia is proving that it is a terrorist state. The Russians will bear responsibility for everything that is committed against our state and our people," the Ukrainian president lashed out on Facebook.
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In Kiev, the head of the local military administration said the capital's air defenses had repelled several missiles and drones overnight.
An airfield hit by missiles
An airfield was hit by a Russian strike near the city of Kropyvnytskyin also located in central Ukraine, the Ukrainian Air Force said Sunday. "Six missiles and five attack drones" were launched by Russian forces, Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ignat said on television.
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"Unfortunately, not all of them were destroyed. Of the six (missiles), four were destroyed by air defense and two hit the airfield near Kropyvnytskyi," he added.
Two Russian civilians killed in Belgorod, governor calls on civilians to evacuate
On the other side of the border, in the Russian region of Belgorod, two civilians died in Ukrainian shelling on Saturday, said the governor of this territory hit in recent days by heavy fire. In a statement on Telegram, Vyacheslav Gladkov said that an "elderly woman" had been killed by gunfire on the town of Novaya Tavoljanka, bordering Ukraine. According to the governor, she was injured in the shoulder and hospitalized.
Hundreds of residents of Russia's Belgorod region have been evacuated and taken to shelters, like here on June 2. AFP/OLGA MALTSEVA
Another woman died from "numerous wounds" from shrapnel in the nearby village of Bezlyudovka, he said, adding that a man was also wounded by shrapnel "in the chest and upper and lower limbs" and hospitalized.
Both localities are located in Chebekino district, a town of 40,000 people subjected to intense fire that prompted hundreds of residents to flee this week to Belgorod, capital of the eponymous region.
The governor of this Russian region on Sunday called on residents to evacuate areas subject to shelling. "I demand that the inhabitants of the localities that are being bombed, especially those in the Chebekino district, follow the instructions of the authorities and temporarily leave their homes," Gladkov said.
According to him, these evacuations must make it possible to "save lives". He added that shelling again hit the Chebekino and Volokonovsky districts overnight, causing "a lot of damage" but no casualties. He said more than 4,000 people who fled the bombing were temporarily housed in reception centres in the region.
Zelensky 'ready' for counter-offensive
On Saturday, Volodymyr Zelensky announced that preparations for a Ukrainian counteroffensive are complete, but the loss of life could be heavy because of Russian air superiority, the Ukrainian president said. In an interview published Saturday by the Wall Street Journal, he said: "In my opinion, as of today, we are ready ... We firmly believe that we will succeed," he added, adding that he did not know "how long it will take".
He warned, however, that the offensive would be "dangerous" without increased Western help to counter Russian air attacks. "Everyone knows that a counter-offensive without air superiority is very dangerous," the Ukrainian president added.
Only one weapon, the US Patriot surface-to-air missile system, can protect Ukraine's skies, he added, calling for more such weapons to be delivered to his country. "One weapon robs Russia of its ability to intimidate tens of millions of people: the Patriots missiles," he said.
In the run-up to the NATO summit to be held in Vilnius, Lithuania, next month, he also admitted that he understood that it was not possible for his country to join the Atlantic Alliance during the Russian invasion.
Indonesia calls for peace plan
At a defense and security conference in Singapore on Saturday, Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto called on "Russia and Ukraine to commit to immediately cease all hostilities," stressing that Asian countries' economies and food supplies were being hit hard by the conflict.
The minister proposed a ceasefire "on current positions", demilitarized zones that would be guaranteed by observers and UN peacekeeping forces. He also suggested an eventual "referendum in disputed areas" organized by the United Nations.
An initiative immediately criticized at the conference, a participant accusing him of putting the aggressor and the assaulted on the same level. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell argued that peace in Ukraine must be achieved on acceptable terms, without risking freezing the conflict. Indonesia voted in favor of a UN resolution condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine but did not enforce economic sanctions against Moscow.